Stay-At-Home Dad: Reflections run deep when revisiting early years of fatherhood
I wrote my first stay-at-home dad column for the then-Daily Southtown seven years and one month ago from the publication date of Sept. 29.
Feeling reflective, I went back into my archive last week and revisited my first seven columns. I’d never previously done this with my parenting columns.
The findings were interesting. In the end, I was near tears.
First, I was surprised at the quality of the writing. I’ve been writing newspaper articles since high school. I’ll occasionally stumble upon one of my articles from the Tom-Tom — a publication of Lemont Township High School. These stories are typically awful.
My quality of writing improved a bit in college, though the stuff I wrote for the DePaulia — DePaul University’s student newspaper — isn’t great. So the above-average quality of writing I found in the Daily Southtown dating back to Aug. 13, 2006 was a welcome surprise.
Reading the columns re-introduced me to a wide-eyed parent who was delightfully unaware of what was required to raise children. One column detailed my first attempt at tackling the laundry, cursing the many dials on the washing machine. Today, this task is routine. I don’t give it a second thought.
I took risks in my columns then that I don’t anymore. Part of this comes from my growth as a parent. In one column, I described an 11-month-old girl as “curvaceous.” I wouldn’t do that today. I’d be afraid of offending her parents.
However, this ignorance did make my columns more amusing. There were several laugh-out-loud moments in these early columns including a description of my son’s spit-up. I must have thought I was terribly clever when I decided to burp my 3-month-old boy over the kitchen sink. Upon regurgitating a portion of his lunch, it splashed near the drain and was easily washed away.
“He shoots. He scores,” I wrote of baby Bubba’s heroic spit-up.
Reading these early columns, I also realized how fortunate I’ve been to have the opportunity to write them. The weekly musings helped keep my skills sharp. The columns also forced me to document the early lives of my two sons.
Bubba is now 7 years old. Peter is 5. Had I not been writing my column I’d certainly have forgotten the first time I took my boys to the movie theater or the feelings that swarmed as I baptized Bubba into the Catholic faith.
This is what eventually caused me to be overrun with emotion. Reading the columns, I realized my two sons are never going to be babies again. And as time passes, it appears less likely that any new Ludwig children will enter the fray.
Ideas for my stay-at-home dad column came fast and furious when my children were tiny.
Now, they’re both in school most of the day. I’m still the primary caregiver, but life is different. Bubba and Peter are more independent. That’s a good thing. But it makes it harder to write a regular parenting column.
So, I’ve decided to make this my final stay-at-home dad column.
I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to write this weekly feature in the SouthtownStar. And I’m equally grateful for everyone who’s ever read my work.
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business reporter who traded his reporter’s notepad for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.